Trains halted just as holidays began

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UPDATED: Norway’s beleaguered railroad broke down again at a key station in Oslo on Thursday, just as the country’s five-day annual Easter holidays officially began. The failure of a signal system disrupted nearly all trains through the capital, several long-distance lines in Southern Norway and the Airport Express Train (Flytoget) to Oslo’s main airport at Gardermoen.

A power failure at the busy Skøyen station, just west of downtown Oslo, led to the failure of the signal system at Skøyen, affecting traffic not least through the main tunnels under central Oslo. The failures forced a halt in all traffic in both directions through Skøyen that lasted most of the day.

That in turn disrupted all lines including the Airport Express, forcing airline passengers to find alternative methods of getting to the airport quickly.

The signal failure occurred shortly before 9am and lines were still disrupted or halted by midday. A spokesman for state railroad Jernbaneverket, which is responsible for all rail infrastructure in Norway, told Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) at mid-morning that it wasn’t possible to say when the train lines would be running as normal. They didn’t get back on track until late afternoon.

Once again, state railway NSB was left to arrange alternatives to the stranded trains. Even though Thursday morning was relatively quiet because most commuters are on holiday, and many Norwegians already had left town because they take the entire week off, Thursday is the first day of the official Easter holiday period that lasts through Monday. An estimated 30 percent of all Norwegians go traveling, according to a recent study by employers’ organization Virke.

Passengers on the long-distance trains to Bergen (Bergensbanen) and Kristiansand/Stavanger (Sørlandsbanen) were affected at a time when the Bergen line is especially popular with skiers heading for the mountains. The Vestfold line to Tønsberg and the lines through Oslo to Spikestad, Drammen, Kongsberg and Eidsvoll were also disrupted.

NSB set up shuttle traffic between Oslo’s Central Station (Oslo S) and the Lysaker station farther west of Skøyen, which also serves as a major public transport hub. NSB also urged passengers to use the bus and metro service where possible.

newsinenglish.no/Nina Berglund